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Keeping your data bright

Keeping your data bright

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Bright Data is a leading public web data gathering platform, with enterprises and SMEs alike relying on the company’s solutions. Or Lenchner, CEO of Bright Data, speaks to Intelligent CXO about his most memorable achievement, management philosophy and why responsible conduct is one of Bright Data’s key focuses.

Describe your current job role

I’m CEO of Bright Data, a leading public web data gathering platform. I’ve been in this role for the past three-and-a-half years. The company was established in 2014 and acquired by UK private equity firm EMK Capital in late 2017. I was nominated for the CEO role shortly afterwards.

What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?

Dealing with the pandemic for the past two years. I’m grateful to my team and proud of our company. With the pandemic outbreak, we all faced a massive unknown factor; many companies were initially, consequently scaling back. Being the market leaders in the web data space, we quickly understood that web data will become a must-have commodity to all organisations, including academic and research institutions – it is simply the only source of data that can accurately and reliably reflect your reality in real-time. Public web data lived up to its promise and helped us and our customers successfully navigate this pandemic in multiple ways. In fact, during the past year, Bright Data has doubled in size and far surpassed the US$100 million revenue mark.

Additionally, I’m proud of the new pro-bono organisation we launched, The Bright Initiative. Powered by Bright Data, this separate organisation and programme use public web data to drive positive changes in the world. When the pandemic began, we decided to allow free use of our products and platforms. Now this organisation includes 300+ partners that promote valuable cases, like battling climate change or fighting for social justice. The Bright Initiative also serves 100+ leading universities worldwide, including Oxford, King’s College and Princeton, supporting research, or running educational sessions. To date, we have run, on average, five masterclasses or workshops a month.

What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?

The style is cultivated by our company’s culture, which focuses on getting jobs done. To thrive in the tech world, you need to present the best innovation that’s attuned to your customers’ needs, addresses their biggest challenges and can be released fast to the market. As such, you need to foster a culture of true employee empowerment, where every employee feels responsible for their domain – like the owner of a small start-up. Therefore, we look for the greatest technological and data-savvy minds and we make sure they feel they’re valued and that they’re connected to the market and know how to anticipate every angle of its emerging needs.

What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?

Innovation will always be at the forefront, but we can’t forget responsible conduct.

Particularly with the data domain, we must follow a compliance-driven approach and culture and act and communicate with transparency; it must start with your internal organisational culture and work outward. At Bright Data, this is our focus and we keep updating the ethical guidelines we follow. For example, we just released new important tools that help webmasters control the traffic sent, thereby ensuring they do not harm the digital ecosystem they operate in and the websites they send requests to. We also enable those seeking to know which public web data was collected can do so, anytime.

I believe in clarity in conduct and my company and I work to promote regulation that looks beyond the privacy of data into the entire data operation set-up, even behind the scenes. Some people are against regulation and do everything in their power to stop it, but I think they’ll eventually harm a domain that’s needed to drive our real-time economy forward. Every system and almost every industry domain is fueled by data – shouldn’t it be regulated? It will only make our domain stronger.

If you could go back and change one career decision, what would it be?

I work closely with universities and love it! However, I studied for one semester and quickly understood that my path in learning is a more practical one. So, I would save myself that semester if I could. I think academic studies are great in evolving those built for it, and therefore Bright Data supports any academic institutes in need of public web data and/or data-driven expertise.

What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain a C-level position in your industry?

Growth and innovation are at the core of any such position. However, keeping a sharp focus on responsible conduct and maintaining that focus even when the domain rapidly shifts and turns, as it always does, is what will keep you and your team successful. We understood it early on and invested in creating a culture driven by transparency and individual responsibility. This bright, unique DNA and team culture is what has led us to become today’s industry leaders. Invest in building the organisational culture and surround yourself with those who amplify it. This will make you excel even in challenging periods.

What behaviour or personality trait do you most attribute your success to, and why?

I think my calmness is mistakenly confused for indifference. I’ve always thrived from a challenge; even when younger, I believed challenges were opportunities to further excel. If you remain calm in your toughest days, you’ll remain sharp, which will lead you to the right plan of action and will ensure continued success. There’s no point in surrendering to pressure or pressurising your team. You need to get the job done in the best way possible for your customers and partners and make sure you do it wisely and better than the rest.

What’s your go-to productivity trick?

It’s very aligned with the company’s DNA. I postpone nothing. I prioritise my tasks and complete them before the next day. This was my ‘trick’ even as a child. Now, as a manager, I keep practicing it. Additionally, I learned that the busiest employees are also the most productive ones; they find creative ways to accomplish things in record time. So, I tend to give the busiest team members the most challenging or important tasks since they will always accomplish them.

What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?

I think clarity and responsible conduct that champion the clearest compliance-driven ethical guidelines are front and centre now. Innovation will always move faster than regulation. That’s our industry’s nature and should continue to be so. However, it’s up to us to make sure we use innovation to benefit the market or public and our customers and partners. We must routinely ask ourselves the hard questions. To trust the data you receive, you must trust your data provider first, and that starts with clarity, transparency, and responsible conduct. Trust is a big word – we all must live up to it.

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